Sylvie Roke: Emulsions (MINE)

© 2009 EPFL

© 2009 EPFL

The excellence of the research performed at EPFL has once again been recognized at an international level. Sylvie Roke has received a STARTING GRANT 2009 from the European Research Council (ERC).

Molecular Interfacial structure and dynamics of Nanoscopic droplets in Emulsions (MINE)

Emulsions consist of one liquid dispersed as nanoscopic droplets in another liquid, such as milk, and butter. The understanding of the structure and stability of emulsions is commonly obtained from empirical studies in which a macroscopic parameter (like temperature or concentration of constituents) is varied. Since the work of Irving Langmuir and others (published in 1917) it is well established that the stability and properties of these nanoscopic droplets are strongly influenced by the state of the droplet interface. However, despite the abundance and importance of emulsions in our daily lives, the molecular mechanisms that dictate the stability and properties of emulsions are still unknown. This lack of insight is caused by the system itself: the condensed surrounding medium forms an impenetrable barrier to most molecular probes. Nonlinear light scattering spectroscopy, a novel method I have developed (both theoretically and experimentally), offers a way of obtaining molecular information (chemical composition, molecular orientation, ordering and chirality) of the interfaces of nanoscopic particles in solution. With this method it should be possible to observe, in-situ, non-invasively and label-free, the molecules at the interface of the nanoscopic droplets in solution. I therefore propose to form a small group that investigates interfaces of nanoscopic droplets in emulsions on the molecular level and timescale. Using femtosecond nonlinear light scattering methods we can finally observe the molecules that dictate the structure and stability of emulsions in action.

Max ERC funding: 1.15 million Euros
Duration: 60 months
Host institution: EPFL
Project acronym: MINE
Domain: Physical and Engineering Sciences